CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Sixteen county judges from the Coastal Bend plan to sign a letter urging the Navy to send the USNS Comfort hospital ship to the Coastal Bend with many communities in the area expereincing COVID-19 activity.
“I can tell you that our hospitals are overwhelmed," Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said. "I can tell you Nueces (County) hospitals are overwhelmed. And my fear is that they’re going to get worse."
Worsening COVID-19 conditions sent The Comfort sailing for New York weeks ago. Things have improved there, and she's since returned to her home port.
Local leaders hope the Navy doesn't keep her there long.
“We all know that that’s a heavy lift, right — to move her from Norfolk, Virginia over here?" Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said. "Having said that, we believe the (ship's) resources in the Gulf of Mexico are needed."
On previous missions, The Comfort has been staffed by 200 doctors and 60 nurses who are capable of treating thousands of patients.
They can even perform surgeries right on the ship.
“That’s part of the Cadillac version, if you will, of the greatest resource we could have," Canales said.
Convincing the Navy to send The Comfort to the Coastal Bend is far from a done deal. The Navy will make the final call.
A Navy veteran himself, Madrid is passionate about making it happen.
“I will tell you, I’m making this a personal goal of mine," he said. "I will be supporting Congressman (Michael) Cloud’s efforts to bring the USS (sic) Comfort to the Gulf of Mexico."